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In the News 07.04.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 07.04.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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In the News 07.04.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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The Strange Brain Of The World’s Greatest Solo Climber

Alex Honnold has his own verb. “To honnold”—usually written as “honnolding”—is to stand in some high, precarious place with your back to the wall, looking straight into the abyss. To face fear, literally.

The verb was inspired by photographs of Honnold in precisely that position on Thank God Ledge, located 1,800 feet off the deck in Yosemite National Park. Honnold side-shuffled across this narrow sill of stone, heels to the wall, toes touching the void, when, in 2008, he became the first rock climber ever to scale the sheer granite face of Half Dome alone and without a rope. Had he lost his balance, he would have fallen for 10 long seconds to his death on the ground far below. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten.

Read the rest of this article at: Nautilus

In the News 07.04.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Google Is Building A City Of The Future In Toronto. Would Anyone Want To Live There?

In the News 07.04.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
Illustration by Ben Fearnley

TORONTO—Even with a chilly mid-May breeze blowing off Lake Ontario, this city’s western waterfront approaches idyllic. The lake laps up against the boardwalk, people sit in colorful Adirondack chairs and footfalls of pedestrians compete with the cry of gulls. But walk east, and the scene quickly changes. Cut off from gleaming downtown Toronto by the Gardiner Expressway, the city trails off into a dusty landscape of rock-strewn parking lots and heaps of construction materials. Toronto’s eastern waterfront is bleak enough that Guillermo del Toro’s gothic film The Shape of Water used it as a plausible stand-in for Baltimore circa 1962. Says Adam Vaughan, a former journalist who represents this district in Canada’s Parliament, “It’s this weird industrial land that’s just been sitting there—acres and acres of it. And no one’s really known what to do with it.”

That was before Google.

This past October, a coalition of the Toronto, Ontario and Canadian governments contracted with Sidewalk Labs, a sister company of Google, to come up with a $50 million design for a dozen acres on the waterfront’s far eastern end. The idea is to reimagine Toronto’s derelict waterfront as “the world’s first neighborhood built from the internet up,” as Sidewalk describes it. The neighborhood, called Quayside, would leapfrog the usual slow walk of gentrification to build an entire zone, all at once, as a “smart city,” a sensor-enabled, highly wired metropolis that can run itself.

Read the rest of this article at: Politico

Why Our Brains Constantly Create New Threats

Why do many problems in life seem to stubbornly stick around, no matter how hard people work to fix them? It turns out that a quirk in the way human brains process information means that when something becomes rare, we sometimes see it in more places than ever.

Rather than being a consistent category, what people considered “threats” depended on how many threats they had seen lately.

Think of a “neighborhood watch” made up of volunteers who call the police when they see anything suspicious. Imagine a new volunteer who joins the watch to help lower crime in the area. When they first start volunteering, they raise the alarm when they see signs of serious crimes, like assault or burglary.

Let’s assume these efforts help and, over time, assaults and burglaries become rarer in the neighborhood. What would the volunteer do next? One possibility is that they would relax and stop calling the police. After all, the serious crimes they used to worry about are a thing of the past.

Read the rest of this article at: Undark

In the News 07.04.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Chinese Buddhist Billionaire Who Wants To Fix Your Brain

In the News 07.04.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Chen Tianqiao could easily be mistaken for someone enjoying retirement. It’s not just his attire: a short-sleeved white shirt with a floral pattern down the middle, relaxed blue trousers, a pair of camo sneakers. Chen, who founded the online gaming company Shanda in 1999 and piloted it to an IPO in 2004, could enjoy an early retirement if he wanted. As China’s first true internet tycoon, he was a billionaire by age 30. And then he disappeared.

In 2010, Chen moved to Singapore with his family and took Shanda private while selling off what shares he still owned in its subsidiary companies. He wouldn’t have been the first dotcom billionaire to get out of the game young and spend the rest of his life enjoying his money. But that’s not why Chen stepped away from the business world. In the mid-2000s, when Shanda was at its peak, he began suffering intense, debilitating anxiety attacks that were compounded by a cancer scare. “I remember some nights, I wake up, and my heart is going boom, boom, boom,” Chen says. “I realized something terrible was happening to me.” The only way to survive was to leave the company he had created.

After spending several years in Singapore researching his next act, Chen decided on philanthropy with a very specific focus: the brain. Chen has set aside $1 billion to fund research on neuroscience, including $115 million to create the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech). Altogether it’s one of the biggest gifts ever devoted to foundational scientific research, and Chen and his wife have since moved to Silicon Valley to oversee their giving.

Chen, now 45, wants to help people who suffer as he once did. “When we decided to choose a second chapter and give our money, we focused on how to relieve this pain and suffering,” he says. But Chen is also fascinated by the scientific mysteries that could be unlocked by better understanding the brain — as well as the business opportunities that could arise as a result. (His investment firm has backed dozens of advanced technology ventures, with a particular interest in virtual reality.) Over the course of a two-hour conversation alongside Chrissy in their new house on New York’s Upper East Side, Chen touched on the connection between his Buddhist faith and the study of the brain, the need for technology to solve the problems it has created, and why he isn’t worried about the robot uprising.

Read the rest of this article at: Medium

Mission Accomplished

In the News 07.04.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The last time Lorna Onizuka spoke to her husband, she mentioned milk. She and their two daughters, Janelle and Darien, wouldn’t be able to have cereal the next morning because she’d left the milk on the porch and it was frozen solid. The temperature that night in Cape Canaveral, Florida, dropped to 18 degrees, well below the average low of 50. This would become important later, but for now, it affected only breakfast.

It was late, later than her husband, Ellison, should have been up, but he was restless inside the crew quarters at Kennedy Space Center and wanted to know whether there was news about tomorrow. Lorna turned on the TV at the house they had rented for the occasion and relayed what she saw: The 10th flight of the space shuttle Challenger was a go.

“I guess we’re going to launch tomorrow,” Ellison said on the other end of the telephone.

“I guess so,” Lorna replied.

There on Lorna’s television, inside the 4.4 million-pound launchpad assembly, inside the space shuttle, inside the crew cabin, inside a locker, inside a black duffel bag, was a soccer ball.

As the Onizuka girls woke up on Jan. 28, 1986, and found something else for breakfast, the ball sat in Ellison’s locker on board the shuttle. As the crew buckled into their seats and countdown progressed, it was just a ball. But at 11:39 a.m., it became a relic.

Ellison Onizuka was the first Asian-American, the first Japanese-American and the first Hawaiian in space. NASA

Clear Lake High School is perhaps the only place in the country where it’s not all that strange to be the child of an astronaut. Its campus is just 4 miles from Johnson Space Center in Houston, and many of the Falcons have at least one parent whose paycheck comes from NASA.

In January 1986, “Rocky IV” was in theaters, gas was 93 cents per gallon and Janelle Onizuka was sitting through her sophomore classes at Clear Lake, waiting to get to soccer practice. All week, the team had been passing around a ball to sign. It was just a practice ball, a little scuffed up and not the best brand. By all accounts it was unremarkable, except for one very remarkable fact: Janelle’s dad, Ellison, was going to take it into space.

Ellison and Lorna were big fans of the Lady Falcons. El was an assistant coach for the team, though his former players said it was hard to take him seriously when he assigned drills. Sternness just didn’t suit him, especially when he was trying to avoid cracking a smile. With Ellison’s quick wit and Lorna’s sweet demeanor, the two became fast friends with the other parents and coaches. If he was on earth, Ellison tried his best to never miss a game.

“He was supposed to be in quarantine, and he would sneak out just to see a little bit of the game,” Lorna says. “None of us would know until we’d see him at the corner of the fence. When we’d look up, he’d be gone.”

The mid-January evening that Ellison came to pick up the ball was one of those nights he was supposed to be in quarantine. Janelle hadn’t seen him for weeks; the astronauts were kept isolated before missions to avoid getting sick. But there he was, jogging across the practice field, and suddenly the whole evening buzzed with the electric feeling of being part of something special as a kid — literally, in this case, part of something far beyond your own small world.

The players on the team presented Ellison with the ball, looking one last time at all their names and “Good Luck, Shuttle Crew!” written in careful strokes, knowing it was a way for each of them to be a part of the great human achievement of the time — a way to touch the heavens.

Read the rest of this article at: ESPN

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